I am now an ET nurse at the hospital I was already working at. I love my job! Every day is different and extremely rewarding. One of my tasks is to teach things to future ostomates. I usually meet them right before their surgery, sometimes a few days before. I am sure you know surgery is stressful. Future ostomates ask me a lot of questions, and some of them keep coming up. I decided to write an article on frequently asked questions.

1. Can people around me smell the stools in my pouch? (or urine in the case of a urostomy)

Honestly, this is something I am asked about every time I am teaching someone! Now I answer the question before being asked. The answer is no, of course not! We are in 2016, new technologies are really effective and the smell doesn’t go through the pouch unless it’s leaking. Examples of this are if the pouch isn’t closed correctly, or if it is loose. Just like anyone who goes to the bathroom, it will smell when you empty your pouch in the toilet. I don’t know anyone who poops rainbows! So don’t worry. No one will notice when you’re out grocery shopping.

2. Can I take showers with my pouch?

Yes! Of course you can. I like to remind my patients that this stoma is there so they can continue living their lives. Your new friend isn’t here to prevent you from living a normal life! New technologies are waterproof. You don’t have to worry about swimming and taking a shower. Depending on your type of pouch, you may have to dry it with a towel or a hairdryer. It isn’t supposed to become loose or be less resistant after. Some people like to take it off on the day it needs to be changed, so they can shower without it. You can do it, but remember to wash peristomal skin with mild soap as usual.

3. Will my pouch show through my clothes?

A lot of people are afraid they won’t be able to wear “normal” clothes anymore. Some think that they need to wear loose clothes to hide their pouch. There are multiple ways to hide a pouch under your clothes, like ANA’s wonderful underwear! Nowadays, pouches are really thin and are adjusted close to the body. Men may have to trade their belts for shoulder straps or elastic pants, depending on where their stoma is. This varies, as everyone’s case is different. I would like to remind you that seeing the shape of the pouch through your clothes isn’t that bad. After all, this is what allows you to lead a healthy life, and accepting your stoma is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. In short, it is not necessary to buy a whole new wardrobe after your surgery unless it cheers you up!

This was my first post on frequently asked questions. I really enjoyed sharing these answers with you. I hope they helped you, or helped ease your concerns.